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Facebook Eliminates Third-Party Data Providers

The ever-popular social media giant, Facebook, has been in the news a lot lately – unfortunately it's for all the wrong reasons. It was unveiled in early 2018 that a political firm working for the recent Trump presidential campaign – known as Cambridge Analytica – gained access to the confidential and sensitive information of more than 50 million Facebook users.

As troubling as this news is to some, it doesn't stop there. Cambridge Analytica also provided tools to identify American voters and potentially influence their votes. The information was gleaned through an online personality survey and downloadable app, which used shady data collection processes to capture details on individuals, their friends and networks and their Facebook activities.

While the data collection tactics used by Cambridge Analytica were technically permitted by Facebook and legal, the social media giant quickly reacted and banned these processes. They're also implementing a number of other strategies to address the issue and prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

Eliminating Third-Party Data

As of September 30, 2018, advertisers will no longer be able to use the "Partner Categories" feature offered by Facebook. This service gave advertisers and marketers the ability to target social media users based on their recent online purchases or household income. Since this information isn't readily available to Facebook, the service relied on third-party services – like Experian, TransUnion, Acxiom, Epsilon and Oracle – to find such data.

While advertisers will still have access to the "Custom Audiences" feature of Facebook, which lets them locate previous customers of a brand or product, any third-party data they use will have to come from a source outside of Facebook.

Facebook also announced they're blocking the release of any new chatbots or apps from launching on their platform until this issue is solved for good. With the chatbot sector gaining a lot momentum over the past few years, due largely in part to the success of social media sites like Facebook, it will be interesting to see how this move affects chatbots and related apps in the near future.

Some Third-Party Relations to Remain

While the removal of third-party data sources is a huge step in the right direction, Facebook isn't completely killing off their third-party relationships. They've announced that they'll continue to partner with third-party brokers to monitor and gauge user behaviors, both online and offline, like they currently do via Oracle's Datalogix software.

Graham Mudd, a product marketing director with Facebook, recently stated, in part: "This product enables third-party data providers to offer their targeting directly on Facebook. While this is common industry practice, we believe this step will help improve people’s privacy on Facebook."

Scrutinizing Social Media

While there has been some amount of fallout as a result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, including some prolific names deactivating their Facebook profiles altogether, the site remains the most popular hub for social networking in the 21st century – and it will likely continue to lead the market for quite some time. Although it now faces greater scrutiny than ever before, the masses aren't quite ready to abandon Facebook altogether.

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